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Port Townsend man accused of unlawful trafficking in wildlife

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A Port Townsend man is facing first-degree unlawful wildlife trafficking after he allegedly sold a wild raven to undercover officers in May.

Andrew Robert Johnston, 57, made a preliminary appearance in Jefferson County Superior Court on Friday, Aug. 12. He is scheduled to be arranged Aug. 19.

Johnson is also facing two other charges; a count of second-degree animal cruelty, and a count of first-degree taking of protected wildlife.

Officers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife received multiple reports of a juvenile “wild born” raven that was being listed for sale for $600 on Craigslist, and set up an undercover buy south of Discovery Bay, according to court documents.

A detective called Johnston May 21 about buying the raven, the pair came up with a pre-arranged sale price, and Johnston allegedly told the officer “he knew the sale of the raven was illegal and that ‘we both had to be careful’.” according to a probable cause statement.

The detective and another Fish and Wildlife officer met with Johnston the next day on West Uncas Road and bought the bird, with Johnston saying he wanted to make sure they had not been Fish and Wildlife officers during the sale.

Two other officers arrested Johnston soon after the sale when they saw him walking up the driveway of a nearby property. According to court papers, Johnston had the $600 in cash that officers had used to buy the raven.

The bird was taken to Center Valley Animal Rescue and a veterinarian technician examined the raven and said the bird’s body was 1 on a scale of 9, with 5 being an ideal body weight. A veterinarian examined the lab results and said the raven was “definitely an emaciated animal that has been kept inappropriately confined.”

The charge of animal cruelty was appropriate, according to the probable cause statement, because “Johnston was criminally negligent in his care of the bird which inflicted unnecessary suffering to the raven.”

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